Skip to comments.The Resurrection of Art: Moving on from Dada
Posted on 04/04/2006 7:36:28 AM PDT by Mr. Silverback
Why would well-heeled folks dress up to attend a fancy gathering where they could admire a urinal? Because its art, of course! Or, at least, so they think.
This springs Dada exhibit at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., celebrates what the Washington Post describes as the most radical, irreverent, rule-breaking movement in the history of Western art.
In case youre unfamiliar, the term dada means exactly what it sounds like: nonsense. As H. R. Rookmaaker described it, Dada was a nihilistic creed of disintegration, showing the meaninglessness of all Western thought, art, morals, traditions. It raises the common to the level of the revered. Hence, Marcel Duchamp sticks a urinal on a wall and titles it Fountain.
Its odd that the movements fans laud it as great art, because Dada by definition seeks the demise of art. Echoing Ayn Rands The Fountainhead, Nathanael Blake writes at Townhall.com, to abolish art, you declare a manufactured urinal to be a masterpiece.
Some say the Dada movement continued the destruction of art that began with cubism, which preceded it. German Dada artist Kurt Schwitters said he built new things . . . out of fragments. Post writer Michael OSullivan describes Dada as a putting back together of a broken, senseless world [after World War I], only not with the glue of logic, and not in any sense back to the way things were.
And there, you see, is the problem. Dada sees the fragmentation of the worldand celebrates that brokenness. But true artists do not merely reflect the worlds brokenness, writes Erik Lokkesmoe in BreakPoint WorldView magazine. The truth-telling artists, rather, also remind us there is more to the story . . . and call us to rise from our defensive crouch to again pursue the faith, hope, and love that abide even in the valley of death.
In every time and place and in every culture, writes Jerry Eisley, founder of the Washington Arts Group, art has ultimately flowed from worship. However, artists since the early twentieth century have abandoned the idea of an ideal measure of goodness and truth linked with beauty. The splintering and extreme individualism that characterize modern art are indicative of the spirit of the postmodern age. Yes, this world is broken, but the role of the artist is to point us toward wholeness.
Art is not dead, however, nor has the Church abandoned it, as illustrated by the resurgence of Christians in the artspeople like Lokkesmoe and Eisley. And another believer whose art flows from her worship of God is Kim Daus-Edwards. Kims latest work is her book of photographs, Force of the Spirit, that represents a surrender to the idea of the holy through the medium of photography. These black-and-white images are coupled with Scripture and draw in the viewer to meditate on universal truths. Even though we may turn away from it, the Spirits power is ever-present and emerges regularly in our lives, she says.
The world may be broken and seem random, but that is not the end of truth. And true art points toward the ultimate restoration of our fallen existence. Too bad the National Gallery of Art doesnt realize that.
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Singing: "And my heart belongs to Dada."
Oh I beg to differ. Art still flows from worship even with these cretins.
It is the worship of man as god, as embodied by a Communist state they so desire to bring forth.
22. Continue discrediting American culture by degrading all forms of artistic expression. An American Communist cell was told to "eliminate all good sculpture from parks and buildings, substitute shapeless, awkward and meaningless forms."
23. Control art critics and directors of art museums. "Our plan is to promote ugliness, repulsive, meaningless art."
Modern "art" is one of my peeves. Actually more than a peeve, since tax payers are often involved, and it signals and promotes a general coarsening and demeaning of the public consciousness.
Just remember, in artspeak, "ugly" is now "challenging", "evil" is now "provocative", and "obscene" is now "edgy". The art elite want to undermine any notion of beauty or idealism among the mainstream and convince us that we simply have to accept their notions of what art is. The next step is to make art a tool of indoctrination and propaganda.
My theory on art is that modern "artists" realizing they can never equal or surpass the works of the ancient masters, had to redefine art to mean "whatever crap I am capable of producing". The same theory applies to classical music.
I was always a big fan of the Dada movement. But strictly for it's sillyness! I also was crazy about DEVO, for pretty much the same reason. So many contemporary artists are just totally anti-social fools. Here in Cleveland we had (was it Oldenberg's?) Free Stamp foisted upon us. What cr@p! And don't get me started on so-called "performance artists!
Exactly. This is designed as "anti-art" but now for the better part of a century "antiart" has been considered the leading "artform".
If it is only art on the basis of hanging in a gallery or museum, it isn't art (even if it may be a "design classic").
No one goes to the hardware store to admire the "collection" of urinal fixtures. But seeing a urinal fixture in a museum gallery with accented lighting "makes a statement". A taxpaying critic should make a statement too and USE that high falutin' urinal. And do it with people watching. Call it peformance art. And be prepared to give interviews when you are arrested. Milk that "controversy" for all it is work. You too can become a highly paid BS Artist.
I disagree. There are undoubtedly plenty of artists who have the raw talent to do art of the same quality.
The difference is in their outlook: modern artists reflect our narcissistic culture.
Most great art was the result of collaboration between an enlightened patron and skilled artisans. Painters need not have great thoughts. Today, even comissioned art reflects the patron, usually a committee.
They're doing that already. I gave up on "modern art" around 1967, when I went to a gallery and saw piles of what looked exactly like dogs**t made of white vinyl or plastic scattered about the floor.
That was the end.
Great one, wag! Performace art, indeed.
Thanks for posting the article. This is a serious interest of mine.
I'm really laughing right now. I am an interior design student and for a history of furniture class we were asked to design our own, and also find existing photos of furniture as art. Because no one else did a Dada piece and I thought I'd be unique, I put up a photo of a table that was actually a bicycle (totally unusable). My professor was less than overwhelmed, "And you chose this junk...why?" she said. LOL!
I pretty much agree with you, but with a caveat. Much so-called "modern" art makes sense to those studying design. Certain colors mix well, certain shapes balance well, etc. Good design is not easy, even in modern art. There is method to the madness in well-designed modern art.
But yeah, the bulk of it is junk.
I totally agree with you. In the beginning, it was fun! And never meant to be taken seriously. When fools started to think they could elevate themselves by seeing some imaginary meaning in it did it really become a pain in the @$$. Like the Oldenburgs, totally! Who really needs a giant lumpy melted ice cream cone in the middle of the park? But the original dadaists, even if they were "anti-artists" had a really cool visual style mixed with humor that was quite appealing. I think it had a positive influence on graphic design, even if a negative one on "fine art".
I think the art elites are easily entertained.
Well, I refuse to make room for dada. :-)
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I studied religious art while in seminary. The thesis was that art reaches its highest form when it inspires the observer to experience the numena, the ethereal. Seems like so much drivel to me today.
I don-t know anything about art but I know what I like.
Now: doo doo
Some nihilistic artists are and were capable of producing fine works of art, including Picasso, Duchamp and Man Ray. Much of their output was puzzling at best, but one is astonished at the rare gems, for example Duchamp's "Nude Descending a Staircase." If Duchamp had never joined any group or uttered any nonsensical opinions, the work would be seen today for what it is: a beautiful expression of man's longing for the sublime. Did Duchamp have an ulterior motive for the piece? Probably. And so we dismiss it as a grand con. The painting is weighed down by its century.
You're welcome, of course.
I don't know why that one qualifies as dada...I mean, it looks like a real painting. :-)
In 1925 an American painter made the most significant statement of his own "ism". Working without the benefit of copying the "masters", this painter made compositions from his ideas about the great American western landscape.
MAYNARD DIXON "CLOUD WORLD"
Thankfully, there's also a French Impressionist exhibit which salvaged this foray into the arts.
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A thread with a religious theme, but pertinent.
I'm not a tremendous fan of Dali, though I still admire his work, and even his showmanship. I own a book by him on classical painting technique that is pretty good, even though filled with his own witticisms.
I much like that painting of the girl in the window...although dreamy, it hardly looks surreal. Am I missing something in it?
Am I missing something in it?
Is that really so? Feet don't seem like such a problem. However you are right, those feet look way too small.
Yep. The sad thing is that Dada should have fed art by poking a finger into its pretensions. Art got its revenge by killing Dada by taking it seriously. Nobody won.
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Great skill can produce beautifully rendered, representational illustrations of trivial, empty, and banal art bereft of worthwhile ideas or thought. Just because it's "pretty" doesn't mean it's any good in the long run.
Great art usually transcends itself and becomes difficult to explain easily. Things easily explained are usually banal or mundane. Not to say that simplicity or "common sense" are bad.
Many ideas are abstract and difficult to understand but that doesn't mean that they are not "real".
Music can be abstract. For some people JS Bach or Bartok is too difficult to listen to or "understand" if you really need to "understand" music to be moved or affected by it. If some people don't "get it", does that mean it's all invalid? Does it have to be explained that JS Bach is better than Lawrence Welk, Yanni or John Tesh?
Much of so called "realistic" or "representational" art or painting can also be a bunch of treacly, sentimental rubbish in the same way that some so called modern, avant-garde or "new" art can also be pretentious, condescending rubbish.
The Marcel Duchamp urinal can be art as idea when it was making fun of the idea of art itself.
What's wrong with thinking or being challenged?
You can always buy a Thomas Kincade "painting".
Not much art is purely abstract, most of it, even that labeled abstract, is "representational" to some degree or another. Although, so far, no one has been able to convince me that any of the purely abstract art is "great art," though I do recognize some of it as good art, in the way that fabric patterns or package designs are good art.
I believe most "realistic" artists agree with you that more is needed than just virtuosity to create good or great art. Most of the good ones warn of the dangers of concentration on just technique. One often hears it said, for instance, that technique will take care of itself, provided the concept is there. However, IMO, the gaining of real skill takes real time, and chances are good that the shallow among us will not take the time, while those who do take the time will learn to express a worthwhile reality as they gain skill.
The irony in this is that those who lack skill will struggle to express their concept, and thus it is they who are apt to be stuck on technique.
I'm not so sure that great art cannot be explained simply - my experience is that it is the self important crap that no one knows what it is that they're looking at that requires a wordy and academic sounding treatise pinned on the wall next to it.
I agree that music, at least the melody part, is pure abstraction, and thus makes a convincing argument that abstract art can be beautiful.
I personally, while liking much abstract art, am really a lover of the more representational stuff. But it does seem fairly obvious that it is the abstract elements within realistic art that makes some of it great, so I guess I have to admit to being a lover of the abstract. 'Course, that makes the great "realists" great abstract artists. IMO, there's some truth in that idea.
Thanks for a very literate response.
I do love Caravaggio, De la Tour, Michaelangelo, but also de Kooning, Rothko, Twombly and Judd, just to name a few.
don't confuse Dali with Dada... Dali has talent, and, while dealing with the horrors of war and social dislocation, he never losthim empathy for humanity, or desire to achieve greatness...
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